It was a completely new challenge that competitors faced today at the Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley, as conditions changed dramatically and offered small two-to-three foot peaks and long lulls in between sets.
The first heat didn't offer much entertainment, but things got interesting when Ramzi Boukhiam and Miguel Blanco paddled out in the second. A fun goofy vs. regular battle unfolded and eventually it was Ramzi who took the win.
"The swell is mixed up and broken up so even though there's no wind it's really difficult to surf," Boukhiam said. "I knew two average scores could win a heat today so I just tried to play it smart. That last wave I thought was going to close out but it let me do two turns, nothing crazy but enough to take the win so I'm stoked to make it through."
The following heat came down to the wire with a last ditch effort from both Charly Quivront and Jake Marshall in the dying seconds of the twenty-five minute bout. Manuel Selman was in first but the Frenchman's final wave, a three-turn combination on a good little right came as the heat's highest score and gave him the pole position. Marshall also improved his scoreline and edged out the Chilean surfer by a .23 margin.
"I wanted to start with everyone else and catch waves on the left there but I fell a couple of times and struggled to find anything good," Charly said. "I knew that right worked as well and needing a score at the end I decided to move to that peak and I'm stoked I got that final chance and a good little right. "
Frederico Morais managed to escape the tricky lineup and find a decent wave to lay down his backhand turns for a 6.50 and a spot into Round Six. Most heats today were won with one wave in the 6+ range and an average backup, and Morais knew exactly what he needed to achieve and advance.
"It's really hard out there so it feels good to get through another round," he said. "There are still a few fun ones but yesterday definitely had many more opportunities. I kept the same board from yesterday but if conditions stay like this I might look for something different to surf better on the flat sections."
Kanoa Igarashi scored the day's biggest performance, able to select multiple waves with great potential. The Japanese surfer's patient approach proved efficient as he locked in a 7.27 and 6.30 for his backhand snaps on the bigger waves of the heat.
"I don't feel any less pressure at a smaller event cause I still want to win!" he said. "If there weren't any pressure it wouldn't be fun and I probably wouldn't be here. Teresa (Bonvalot) and I do talk about where to sit etc., she's a very smart competitor so we definitely chat about heat strategy and things like that."
Surfers and event officials will be back on deck to reassess conditions at 9 a.m Saturday.
Check out all results, photos and video highlights from the Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley from April 24-29.